Give credit where credit is due. Miami-Dade, land of the Trump voter, has a court system that responded quickly to covid-19 and instituted a full Zoom system. Lawyers now awake, pad into their home office, log on and Zoom their morning away. Count us as someone who will advocate for a hybrid in-person-Zoom system when everyone gets the Pfizer vaccine. Zoom reduces congestion in the court house, lowers carbon emissions, keeps traffic down, and allows clients to appear in court without wasting an entire morning.
Broweird appears to be Zooming. Ditto Hillsborough County, which is accommodating your blogger on a pretty serious case.
Go on the Monroe County court website and this is how much Zoom information is available_______________________. Zero. None. Nada. Appears it is easier to get a pina colada on Duval street then a Zoom link in the Conch Republic.
So what can our readers report about the availability of Zoom hearings in Florida in other counties?
The following is an accurate recitation of a conversation Rumpole had with a Judicial Assistant in August 2020:
Rumpole: I am calling to get the Zoom link for the upcoming status conference next week.
JA: What's that?
Rumpole: Zoom or the link?
Rumpole: Is your courthouse open? Are you doing in person hearings?
JA: Sure we are.
Rumpole: The website for this circuit says the courthouse is closed because of Covid. Have you heard of Covid?
JA: Yes. This judge doesn't believe in it. He requires people to attend court.
Rumpole: I see. Well one way to deal with a life threatening pandemic is to ignore it. Would it matter to the Judge I am a continent away in Europe and I cannot secure a ten hour flight for a five minute hearing?
Rumpole: What a wonderful group of public servants you are. Have a nice a day. Click.
We then called the prosecutor and counsel for the co-defendant who both told us the JA and Judge want to open court and the Chief Judge will not allow them to do so and to submit a motion and order requesting to appear electronically. We then asked why the JA is telling people to come to court. Both told us the Judge was trying to get people to show up at the courthouse so that he could convince the chief judge to allow him to open court.
We submitted the motion and order and received an order with a Zoom link. We then asked the Judge at the hearing if he was aware his assistant denied knowledge of what Zoom was. The Judge waved us off, denied a motion to continue from both sides and ordered trial for the following week. That Friday we received an order continuing the trial that was set for Monday because of "an apparent lack of jurors."
This folks, is your Florida judiciary at work. The most surprising part of this horror story is that the learned judge is NOT located in Broward.